Okay, so if you read my other post, you’ll know that I’ve lost 25 pounds in the last 3 months. Trust me, it wasn’t the plan. Basically, while getting my MBA, I snacked way too much, exercised too little and gained too much weight. Next thing you know, you’re winded getting the mail, the ‘fat pants’ you bought are now the ‘skinny pants’ and your doctor makes sure you know the number for 9-1-1…just in case.
Some things had to change; I decided to include a proper exercise plan along with reasonable diet. My diet was always fairly reasonable (besides snacking), but I did make some adjustments. The driving factor by far was exercise.
Exercise is a scary concept when you’re 45, overweight and have been fairly sedentary for the past few years. The term “heart attack” brings on a level of seriousness that is hard to understate. Plus, I didn’t want to be the guy that drops dead on the verge of things going good.
So first thing I did is a little research and try to figure out what I really need to do. I don’t want to waste a lot of time and effort here. Generally speaking, exercise is broken into two categories – strength and cardio. I wanted to focus on cardio for a while. I figured I could warm up my heart a little before I punished it. Plus I already owned an elliptical, so it made the decision pretty easy.
So here’s where knowing the goal comes into play. Cardio, or more properly cardiovascular fitness, is defined simply by raising your heart rate into a target level for a relative period of time. My goal was not really to lose weight; my goal is to have a reasonable level of cardiovascular fitness in my life, so I don’t go do something crazy like have a heart attack one day. I needed only one additional piece of equipment to see how this works and that was a good heart rate monitor. I got one that straps right across my chest. I figured it would flash and beep when I was going too fast. I wondered if they made one that would dial 9-1-1 if you pressed a button…they don’t.
I went online and found a chart that says my target was 145-150 BPM sustained for 45 minutes or so, three times a week. I can do this! Keep in mind: besides eating reasonable, this is my goal. Just three times a week, make heart beat fast. This is easy.
At first, putting on the monitor and staring at the elliptical would get my heart into the 120+ range. I would practically break a sweat just looking at it. Getting it going at a moderate pace would easily get me to 145-150. Actually, I had to work not to overshoot more than anything. After the first 2 weeks, I noticed my walk up heart rate was at 100-110 and it took a little more oomph to reach the target. I was feeling pretty good about it and I really like keeping the same schedule every day, so I started doing it every weekday, five days a week. After the first month, my walk up heart rate was 90-100 and it takes substantial effort to get into the target heart rate. At about the six-week point, I’m getting pretty bored with just the elliptical even though it now takes quite a bit of serious effort to get to the target.
I bought a Bowflex. I figured I would do that and the elliptical 3 times a week, mix it up a little. Fast forward to a month, around the 10-week point; my elliptical walk up heart rate is 80 or less now. It takes a considerable amount of resistance for me to get into the target heart rate; often, I will have the machine at 50% resistance and will interval to max to get my heart rate up. By no stretch of the imagination did I ever think I would have to push this hard to ‘get in the zone’. Plus, you can’t fool your mind forever, it knows you’re working really, really hard and going nowhere. My thoughts moved towards locomotion.
The elliptical has pretty much lost all excitement when doing cardio, I still use it for warming up to lift, but that’s it. I didn’t like the idea of running, so I took out the old mountain bike, tuned it up a little and off I went. I still wear a heart rate monitor so I know when my heart rate is where I want it and I upped my interval to about 60 minutes but that’s about it.
I don’t necessarily keep track of distance, weight lifted, or calories consumed. To give you an idea, a celebratory pie showed up just a few days ago and I still have a few beers on the weekend. I just keep a general idea of those things and work to stay balanced. I just stay focused on my goal and keep my heart elevated in the proper range for a period of time. That’s it. Everything else will happen on its own.
Here’s the business spin.
I defined my goal into something very succinct; knowing everything else is a result of that action. If I stuck with the same routine on day 90 as I had on day 1, I wouldn’t be nearly as well off as I am now. How many of your goals are measuring the wrong thing? Are you measuring contacts or conversions? Hit rate or success rate? If it’s a ‘numbers game’ are they the right ‘numbers’?
Just something to think about. You might find you’re just pushing an elliptical going nowhere and that gets real boring, real fast.